For the first time, SportsCenter on the Road will originate from the site of a Major League Soccer matchup on Saturday, July 23, at 2:30 p.m. ET, live at Providence Park in Portland, Ore., location of that day’s MLS Special Edition featuring defending MLS Cup champions Portland Timbers versus LA Galaxy on ESPN and ESPN Deportes at 3:45 p.m.
Max Bretos and Dianna Russini will co-anchor the program. Russini, a former Division I soccer player at George Mason University who previously worked in Portland for a year, discussed the assignment with Front Row:
How are you preparing for your first SportsCenter on the Road?
This is a phenomenal opportunity to capture the passion for soccer found in Portland, also known as Soccer City. The Timbers Army, made up of hundreds of unique Portland fans, will be the main focus of this show because they are going to be heard and seen live all afternoon. To prepare for SportsCenter on the Road’s first MLS game, I reached out to former soccer teammates of mine who live in Oregon and fellow reporters to get a better understanding of what we are about to witness and share with the viewers.
SportsCenter producers, Manny de la Fe, Joe Rodriguez, Lauren Vassallo and Michael Fountain, have all worked so hard on this show too. I am really looking forward to working with Max Bretos because he always knows how to find the fun in these moments.
– Dianna Russini on co-anchoring SC from an MLS match in Portland
What do you see as some of the benefits of taking ESPN’s signature show on the road?
This is an opportunity to teach and entertain our viewers about a sports community some might not realize is so strong. No longer is soccer an underground sport. It is growing rapidly and this is going to be a great chance to share why. I think fans of different sports like college football, let’s say, will be surprised that there is a similar energy to what ESPN has captured at LSU, Alabama, Florida State or Oklahoma on any given college football Saturday.
There’s a balance of Portland and LA storytelling in all the produced pieces. Can you share some insight on your feature on LA Galaxy’s Giovani dos Santos?
This interview was a blast. Gio is a superstar in his home country, Mexico. He came to the MLS last season and exploded onto the scene here in the states. We had great access and decided to drive around LA and head to the beach to talk about why he would leave major soccer powerhouse clubs in Europe to play for the Galaxy. He was very honest and smart. It was also fun to talk about celebrity gossip with him, because he had tons.
Mac Nwulu and Andy Hall contributed to this post.